The minds over at Mountain View have set their collective sights on some new nuances of nature: using machine learning to improve agriculture so that efficiency and yield can be improved. The news comes from Alphabet X, an Alphabet subsidiary whose mission is to, essentially, try and change the world via what it described as "moonshot" technologies. The company's head, Mr. Astro Teller, revealed the farming-fantasy focus while speaking at MIT Technology Review's annual EmTech Digital event held in San Fransisco. While no specifics were given, an outline of the current approach being considered involves using machine learning coupled with future advances in drone and robotic-related industries. One possible solution could be using AI to assist farmers with harvesting schedules or irrigation implementation. Another idea being considered involves applying AI to farming in agricultural regions being affected by climate change as such locales have weather conditions that are often difficult to accurately predict, and may have rapidly changing pest conditions.
While "X" remains a very secretive off-shoot of Google's parent company, the overall goal is quite simple: find a large problem that affects millions or billions of people, think of a radical solution, and apply breakthrough technology to solve it, hopefully within a ten year period. X's homepage makes reference to several ideas that some would initially write off as unorthodox, such as pairing an aerospace engineer and a fashion designer to devise balloon-powered internet access for the world. This is, for lack of a better term, very much a company committed to upgrading the world itself, and could fit right at home in any post-modern sci-fi film.
As climate change begins to further impact the globe, limited resources will become even greater problems, and sustenance is one of the most fundamental. Seeking to change the world by using machine learning will allow humans to augment their own abilities and more accurately fine-tune the precision and practically with which they make use of them. There are potentially many more moonshot-type projects that X is secretly tinkering away at, and should they prove potentially possible in the future, it is likely that Mr. Teller will be making many announcements to come.